Pakistan’s prime minister told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that the government would comply with a longstanding demand to reopen an old corruption case against the president, defusing a conflict that has roiled the country’s political system and led to the ouster of the last premier.
Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said he finally ordered the law minister to write to the Swiss “in the larger interest of the country”.
President Asif Ali Zardari is likely in little immediate danger from the case in Switzerland, where he is recognised as enjoying immunity from prosecution as a foreign head of state.
But the decision came as somewhat of a surprise to many in Pakistan, given the government had refused for months to follow the court’s order to write a letter to Swiss authorities asking them to reopen the case.
Pakistani law minister Farooq Naek recently travelled to Switzerland to talk to officials about the case, and analysts said the government may have decided the risk of the Swiss reopening the proceedings was low enough to write a carefully worded letter.
“My view is that the government would never write a letter if they had not foreclosed any risk from doing so,” said Rasul Bakhsh Rais, a political science professor at Lahore University of Management Sciences.